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Borah Peak, Idaho

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby TravelingMatt » Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:11 pm

Might try this one in a couple days. What's it like in comparison to day-tripping some of the steeper 14ers? Seems like the closest comparison in CO are the Sangre peaks, except with less of an "approach".
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby dave alex » Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:34 pm

I attempted this last week and there was still plenty of iced snowfields to cross. Lacking traction, I turned around at about 12k. The rock is solid and reminded me of the Crestones. There were several mini knife edges to scoot across. Have fun.

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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby Doug Shaw » Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:44 am

TravelingMatt wrote:Might try this one in a couple days. What's it like in comparison to day-tripping some of the steeper 14ers? Seems like the closest comparison in CO are the Sangre peaks, except with less of an "approach".


Caveat: it's been six years since I've been there, but I recall there might be five or ten minutes of warmup trail before it turns and just starts burning your legs by heading straight up the hillside. Once you break treeline it does eventually ramp down for a while before you start climbing up Chicken Out Ridge.

Back in 2005 we climbed it in June - there was still a lot of snow higher up, but unlike Dave Alex's experience it was soft enough to be managed without crampons (although we did carry them). It's definitely not a walk-up with snow - you will need to use your axe (at a minimum) and expect some notable scrambling.

Based on pictures I had seen, the snow cover we encountered actually seemed to make the supposed crux of Chicken Out Ridge easier - it brought it down to just one or two moves that could easily be made facing out, then you were on the snow. It compensated by making certain sections trickier. There were numerous snow ridges/cornices to cross - some were easy (but don't slip), and others were tricky.

In terms of difficulty of the technical movement and climbing with snow on the ridge, I might compare it to Ice Mountain - not factoring in distance or elevation gain differences.
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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby TravelingMatt » Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:59 pm

Thanks -- I just spent the last couple of weeks in Montana and after all the snow that's still there, decided not to do this. I did summit a few 10ers in Montana though and a 9er in Glacier NP. Borah is still on my bucket list, so this is useful info.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby ClimberDave » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:08 pm

TravelingMatt wrote:Thanks -- I just spent the last couple of weeks in Montana and after all the snow that's still there, decided not to do this. I did summit a few 10ers in Montana though and a 9er in Glacier NP. Borah is still on my bucket list, so this is useful info.


It might be more fun to do with snow. In any case, even in late August, the gully after chicken out ridge still holds snow and the foot pounding makes it rather slick. Be careful if you cross it low. And Chicken Out Ridge has lines all over the place and there really isn't an established method. If I were to do it again, I would start the class 3 section of the ridge and follow it to the exposed section to the right. This will take you back across the ridge to drop down low in the gully after the ridge (a trail starts to become evident on that side) - however, instead of dropping down, I would stay on the ridge which is a little fun and drops you into the top of the gully which is usually melted out (there's a short class 3 drop off the ridge to the gully).

The last 200' or so are a pain - consider the gully on Sunlight...but worse.

It's 5300' of elevation in 3.5 miles and quite a workout. Take plenty of water on this one - I would say at least a liter more than usual. That area is really dry and there are no water sources other than a little snow in the late summer.

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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby turbocat » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:37 am

+1 on Doug Shaw's comment that it is a leg burner almost from the get-go...and you are forced to move fast (at least when I was there) because of the horde of mosquitos trying to suck your blood. Stop for 1 second and you are swarmed. Long sleeve shirt and pants recommended. Very fun climb. Chicken out ridge gets way too much hype, very solid with no noticable exposure until the snow bridge crossing and the snow bridge goes very fast. Route was mostly snow free when we did it a few years back.
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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby voxnihili » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:11 am

I hiked this on 7/9. There were four small snow fields (counting the permanent one at the end of Chicken Out Ridge) that I had to cross or go around on the way up. I took and used my ice axe but there were several hikers that I talked to that didn't and still reached the peak. Really, my axe amounted to little more as a hiking pole as the snow was very hard and I'm not convinced that a self-arrest was possible. I left the trailhead at 5 am and started down around 9:30, so I don't know what the conditions were like in the afternoon.

Anyway, the snow fields near COR had footholes that could be used (when frozen were very solid) and the snow closer to the peak could be bypassed with a little talus scrambling.

I agree with the above posters that the rock on Chicken Out Ridge is pretty solid. Fairly easy to cross technically, it's the exposure that makes it seem intimidating.

At any rate, here's a picture taken from the end of COR looking across the largest of the snow fields. You can see the foot trail going across and then to the left through the snow. You can also see the trail in the distance starting up the final approach to the peak.
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Re: Borah Peak, Idaho

Postby Aubrey » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:59 pm

TravelingMatt, I climbed Borah Aug. 10, 2008. It's a very interesting mountain with amazing views from the top.

I posted a trip report on here, check it out:

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=5096

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